The Museum about Industry, Labour and Textile (MIAT) houses a collection of industrial heritage with international appeal. Covering 1,800 square metres of exhibition space, the museum recounts the story of our industrial past and demonstrates how industrialisation continues to impact our lives. Do not miss the still functioning, and deafening, old textile machines.
At the end of the 18th century, Ghent was the first city on the Continent where the industrial revolution took root. It would continue to be an important centre of industry for over 150 years, especially in terms of textile production.
In the course of the 1970s, the decay of the classical industries caused the loss of a lot of heritage. The city of Ghent itself took the initiative of preserving important machines and objects, this way laying the foundation for the MIAT museum.
In 1991, the museum was moved to the former Desmet-Guequier cotton mill, a company founded in 1830 which, as so many textile factories, closed down in the 1970s.
One of the museum’s showpieces is a spinning mule: a machine which was invented in England in 1779 and made it possible to spin yarn on an industrial scale. In the year 1800, Ghent-born Lieven Bauwens was able to smuggle a spinning mule into the Continent from Great Britain, thus paving the way for his city’s industrial development.
The MIAT is an easily accessible museum. Schools, particularly vocational and technical schools, families and multi-cultural groups are given extra attention.